Thursday, October 21, 2010

Better Than I Thought

When we decided to try homeschooling through a charter school this year, I'll admit, I was a little on the skeptical side. I already knew that homeschooling works well for us, homeschooling our way, that is. I was a bit leery of having an administration that would try to squelch our style and squeeze us into a school at home box. I looked around a lot and asked a lot of questions before making a choice, but it still felt a little like sailing into un-chartered waters for my family.

Well, we're about a month into it, and it really hasn't been too bad. In fact, it's been than I thought. I'm a big fan of lists, and looking at the pros and cons, and so far, we are in the positive. The biggest benefit is that Girl Child is getting to take two dance classes and will get to perform at a fabulous old theater this winter. Boy Child elected to get his PE at a health club where we can play tennis, racquetball, basketball, and swim, so we all get to play. Next best are all the goodies we have access to. We're making very good use of the lending library of books and videos, and have been able to get our hands on things like the 39 Clues book 10 and the latest Artemis Fowl book much sooner than we could through our public library. Just about every time we've seen our facilitator, we've been showered with boxes of fun stuff to open- science kits, microscope slides, art supplies, books- it's like a birthday without the aging part.

One funny thing happened when I came home late one evening with some boxes I had picked up from our facilitator that day. Boy Child had been with his father that afternoon and evening, and hopped out of bed when he heard me drive up. Of course, both kids were so excited to open the packages, and see what had arrived, and of course, I let them. When Boy Child saw his new Scholastic Success workbook, he immediately asked if he could do a page of graphs right then. I had to laugh out loud that a child of mine would be so excited to do a workbook page at 10:00 at night. What was I going to say? No? So, he happily did a few pages, and I sent him off to bed excited for all the fun things the next day would bring.

The down side of the charter school arrangement is not really that much of a downer either. The kids took their online beginning of the year tests, and while they didn't enjoy them (there was some near tears and hair pulling,) in the end, they actually did pretty well. In fact, Girl Child tested in the 98th percentile of the whole nation in Language Arts! This is a  child who has never really had much formal curriculum in that area, so we were feeling pretty happy with that. In fact, she had asked me a few weeks prior if I thought she should start having weekly spelling lists. She is an excellent reader and a strong writer, so I didn't really think she needed it at the time, but now I know she is fine without it, and best of all, so does she.

I also wondered how annoying it would be to produce samples of my childrens' work, but so far, that hasn't been much of a problem either. They produce all kinds of things- the hardest part has been choosing what to turn in and how to present it.

So it looks like it's so far, so good for us with this leg of our homeschooling journey. I'm feeling much more at peace with my decision as I am seeing some real benefits for my kids. Besides the lessons and the fun stuff we now have access to, they are also experiencing an important life lesson. You usually have to do some work to get what you want in life, and some of that work may not be your favorite thing in the world. It's all about balance, and as long as the benefit of what you're getting overall is worth it to you for the time and energy you put into it, then you're probably on the right road. If the balance shifts and it no longer seems worth it, then maybe it's time to re-evaluate your course. Right now, I'm happy to say we're feeling like we're on a pretty good path for our family.